Hollywood has a new technique to find moviegoers likely to see a specific film in theaters. This new approach reveals that AM/FM radio is a powerful platform to launch theatrical releases.
Screen Engine/ASI: Audience Engine
Screen Engine/ASI is an entertainment industry leader in content testing research powered by one of the industry’s largest audience benchmark databases. Screen Engine/ASI works with studios, networks, creators, and distributors to improve the consumption and financial performance of media content and services, using their unique mix of in-person methods and proprietary digital testing software.
Audience Engine is a new method of building audience targets long before a movie premieres. When the movie trailer is released four to six months before the premiere, Screen Engine/ASI recruits a nationally representative survey of 2,300 moviegoers and tests for:
- Degree of passion/interest to see the movie in a theater
- Likelihood of seeing the movie in a theater
- Magnitude of recommendation strength
- Media habits (TV, podcast, AM/FM radio, and AM/FM radio programming format listenership)
Audience Engine builds an audience target for each film that can be utilized for digital targeting via Dstillery, one of the leading custom audience platforms.
Audience Engine also builds audiences to target moviegoers for a specific film audience on over-the-air AM/FM radio.
The Expendables 4: AM/FM radio listeners are +16% more positive about the movie than the U.S. average
Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Andy Garcia, and Dolph Lundgren will explode into movie theaters on September 22nd with The Expendables 4. The trailer for The Expendables 4 dropped on June 7th, 2023.
A national sample of 2,389 moviegoers was surveyed June 15-27, 2023 to test the movie trailer for The Expendables 4, gauge the appeal of the film, and determine which moviegoers would see the film in theaters. Consumers were also tested on their usage of AM/FM radio and listenership to major AM/FM radio programming formats to determine targeting insights for media planning.
Based upon exposure to the film trailer, 45% of American moviegoers said The Expendables 4 was “one of the best/most entertaining movies of the year” or “really good/definitely worth seeing.” 52% of AM/FM radio listeners felt positively, +16% more than the general population. AM/FM radio listeners were +11% more positive about The Expendables 4 than TV viewers.
AM/FM radio listeners are +15% more likely to want to see The Expendables 4 in the theater
Moviegoers were asked the degree to which they would want to see The Expendables 4 in movie theaters. Overall, 41% of moviegoers say The Expendables 4 “must be seen in the theater no matter what” or is “worth seeing in a theater, depending on other options.”
Compared to the general population, AM/FM radio listeners are +15% more likely to want to see The Expendables 4 in a movie theater. Compared to TV viewers, AM/FM radio listeners are +17% more likely to see The Expendables 4 in a movie theater.
Oldies/Classic Hits, Adult Contemporary, Classic Rock, Rock, Top 40, and News/Talk are just a few of the AM/FM radio programming formats with the greatest reach of those likely to see The Expendables 4 in theaters
There is a wide and diverse variety of AM/FM radio programming formats with moviegoers who are The Expendables 4 intenders. 22% of those who say they will see the movie in a theater are Oldies/Classic Hits AM/FM radio listeners. Versus the U.S. overall, listeners of Westwood One’s NFL broadcasts are +54% more likely to see The Expendables 4 in a theater.
Is it interesting to note that virtually every AM/FM radio format over indexes for The Expendables 4. How is that possible? AM/FM radio listeners over index on interest in theatrical releases versus the average and are far more likely to see movies at the theater.
The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group® commissioned MARU/Matchbox to conduct a major study of 1,010 moviegoers in November 2022. The study revealed audio listeners are more movie oriented, see films in the theater more often, and are bigger fans of and more interested in movies.
MARU/Matchbox: Audio is the dominant ad-supported platform among moviegoers
MARU/Matchbox examined the weekly media habits of heavy moviegoers, the 15% of the U.S. who goes to the movies once a week or more or a few times a month. Ad-supported audio (AM/FM radio, podcasts, and streaming) has the largest weekly reach (93%) among heavy moviegoers. Ad-supported audio reaches heavy moviegoers not reached on other media platforms.
The next two largest media platforms, both subscription streaming, do not accept ads. 78% of heavy moviegoers are reached by social media. 75% to 77% of heavy moviegoers are reached by video platforms such as linear TV, YouTube, TikTok, and ad-supported video streaming.
All audio platforms over index on frequent moviegoing
While 15% of the U.S. go to the movie theater weekly/monthly, a much larger proportion of audio listeners (podcast, streaming, and AM/FM radio) are in the heavy moviegoer segment. Interestingly, TV viewers under index on frequent moviegoing.
Opening weekend: Ad-supported audio listeners are more likely to see films in the first weekend
TV viewers are less likely to be opening weekend moviegoers.
While audio listeners are big moviegoers, there is a missed opportunity in advertising movies on audio platforms
A Vivvix/Kantar analysis of theatrical film and streaming movie marketing expenditures reveals the media plans are devoted entirely to linear television and digital platforms.
Theatrical release marketing consists of a 60/40 split for TV and digital. Streaming movie marketing consists of a 70/30 split of digital and TV. Audio represents less than 1% of movie marketing budgets.
Over half of the U.S. will never see a movie ad on linear TV due to the collapse of U.S. linear television viewing
Earlier this year, Ad Age reported that linear weekly television reach has sunk to only 59% of U.S. 18-49s. It’s not surprising that linear TV campaigns for films only reach 40% of the 18-49 moviegoing demographic.
A Nielsen analysis of five major film TV campaigns reveals 60% of the 18-49 demographic are missed. The $24.3 million-dollar TV campaign for Marvel’s Eternals reached only 45% of the 18-49 demographic. The $34.8 million-dollar TV campaign for Sing 2 missed 62% of U.S. 18-49s.
AM/FM radio to the rescue: Reallocating 20% of the linear TV investment to AM/FM radio cause campaign reach to double, according to Nielsen Media Impact
According to Nielsen Media Impact, the media planning and optimization platform, reallocating a mere 20% of the linear TV budget to AM/FM radio generates astonishing lifts in incremental reach.
The Sing 2 campaign would see the reach soar from 38% of 18-49s to 80%, a 2X increase. Shifting 20% of the Eternals linear TV campaign to AM/FM radio would cause campaign reach to surge from 45% to 80%, an astonishing +78% lift in incremental reach.
The optimized audio movie marketing plan allocation consists of 58% AM/FM radio, 28% podcasts, 10% Spotify/Pandora, and 4% SiriusXM
The gold standard audio planning tool offered by Nielsen is Edison Research’s “Share of Ear,” the most utilized and respected audio time use study. Among 18-49s, AM/FM radio has a 58% share of ad-supported audio time spent, followed by podcasts (28%), Spotify/Pandora (10%), and SiriusXM (4%).
- Screen Engine/ASI builds audience segments to find the right audience for a specific film by testing movie trailers months before the film premieres.
- Screen Engine/ASI’s Audience Engine builds an audience target for each film that can be utilized for digital targeting via Dstillery, one of the leading custom audience platforms.
- Audience Engine builds audiences to target moviegoers for a specific film title audience on over-the-air AM/FM radio.
- AM/FM radio listeners are +16% more positive than the general population about The Expendables 4 and +15% more likely to see the film at the theater.
- Oldies/Classic Hits, Adult Contemporary, Classic Rock, Rock, Top 40, and News/Talk are just a few of the AM/FM radio programming formats with the greatest reach of those likely to see The Expendables 4 in theaters.
- A major MARU/Matchbox study of moviegoers reveals audio is the dominant ad-supported reach platform. Heavy audio listeners are more likely to watch movies in the theater, especially opening weekend.
- While audio listeners are big moviegoers, there is a missed opportunity in advertising movies on these platforms. Shifting 20% of linear TV film marketing budgets to AM/FM radio causes campaign reach to double.
- The ideal audio allocation for movie media plans is 58% AM/FM radio, 28% podcasts, 10% Spotify/Pandora, and 4% SiriusXM, based on Edison’s “Share of Ear” study of 18-49 ad-supported audio shares.
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.